This must be the news story of the week. Rob Sloan, a competitor in the Saloman Kielder Marathon, which took place at the weekend, didn’t fancy completing the full 26.2-mile course. Well, who can blame him? It’s a long way. So, after reaching mile 20, he caught a bus. He rejoined the race shortly before the end – and trotted across the finish line.
Speaking to reporters after ‘running the marathon’ in a highly respectable 2 hours and 51 minutes, finishing third in the process, the Sunderland Harrier described the race as ‘absolutely, unbelievably tough’. Which – to be generous to Sloan – is a fair description of the bus journey between Streatham and Brixton, or between Streatham and Croydon, or pretty much any bus expedition in London.
Bizarrely, this happened the day after Sloan took part in and won a 10km race at the same venue. The event director, Steve Cram, called Sloan’s bus ride a ‘mistake’. That’s putting it mildly. Mistakes are generally caused by misunderstandings, not by deliberately catching a bus to gain an unfair advantage on your fellow competitors, then deny the whole thing, only for the organisers to present you with the irrefutable truth.
Still, rather than being vilified, Sloan has become a figure of fun. After all, he’s done nothing worse than the countless professionals who have sought illegal ways to the top. The story is everywhere, of course. Here are the links to some notables: the BBC website and Mail Online. Best headline? ABC News: ‘Marathon Runner Busted for Unfare Advantage.